• A Culture of Confidence

    “I think a lot of times the kids just don’t have a voice, they don’t have self-confidence. This is somewhere they can excel.”

    Somewhere in Las Vegas, beyond the neon lights and multi-million-dollar productions on the Strip, 25 kids are making a difference through dance. They are the youth of Culture Shock, a nonprofit dance company and recipient of a donation from the Insomniac Charitable Giving Initiative.

    “Our mission is using dance to empower the youth, give them the chance to have a voice and give them other options and lifestyles than what’s negative out there,” says Culture Shock Executive Director Vangie Bisquera-Golda. “They can be proud and embrace acceptance, achievement and self-confidence.”

    Culture Shock originated in San Diego in 1993 with Nike Fitness Trainer Angie Bunch. Two years later, Culture Shock Las Vegas began with director Darryl Thomas.

    “We’re going into our 20th year,” says Bisquera-Golda, “and pretty much the vision is: We want to be innovative in our performance, artistic development and community enrichment, [bringing] hip-hop dance to diverse audiences.” However, she adds, “We’re not really all hip-hop anymore. We call it ‘urban’ because it’s what’s out there and what the kids see. Some of our dancers are technical dancers, and they’re able to make us a little bit more urban contemporary and more diverse now. We like to be different, and we don’t quite fit any genre right now.”

    Currently in the program are approximately 25 students, ranging from seven to 18 years old, as well as 25 adults. Interested dancers audition for their spot, and many earn a scholarship to participate. “The adults in our program turn into volunteers and become directors or lead choreographers,” says Bisquera-Golda. “It’s a lot of giving back. Our program is all volunteer—even myself and the board members. Even the veterans that left are still coming back and helping out with choreography.”

    Some of those veterans include dancers that have fine-tuned their skills and gone on to perform with Cirque du Soleil in the Michael Jackson One show at Mandalay Bay. “They were in our program when they were 14, and now they’re in their 20s and 30s, and they still come back and help us out,” Bisquera-Golda says. “They just want to make sure it has continued success because of what it’s done for them.”